Monday, May 05, 2014

Weekly Australian Health IT Links – 5th May, 2014.

Here are a few I have come across the last week or so.
Note: Each link is followed by a title and a few paragraphs. For the full article click on the link above title of the article. Note also that full access to some links may require site registration or subscription payment.

General Comment

An interesting week with the Health Minister speaking about the PCEHR and its future and the release of the National Commission of Audit.
Certainly seems money will be tight for the next few years and that health is in for a bit of a pounding!
Actual Budget due in just a week!
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Not in the public interest: Govt won’t release PCEHR report

30th Apr 2014
A FREEDOM of Information request to obtain a long-awaited report on the rollout of the personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) has been rejected on the grounds its release is not in the public interest.
The request to obtain the report on the troubled rollout of the $1 billion system – which has been in the health minister’s possession since December – was filed by Australian technology website Delimiter.
A letter rejecting the request said that to release the report under Freedom of Information would expose the analysis of the issues and recommendations within it “prematurely… to scrutiny”, given decisions were still being made.
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Health Minister Peter Dutton to let private health pay for seeing doctor

  • May 01, 2014 1:24AM
  • By Sue Dunlevy National Health Writer
  • News Corp Australia
GENERAL Practitioners could be paid more to treat the sickest patients under a major overhaul being planned by the Federal Government.
And private health funds will for the first time be allowed to fund GP care under the changes, to be announced by Health Minister Peter Dutton today.
The government will also pledge to proceed with the troubled $1 billion e-health record system, which has been ignored by GPs and patients alike since it was launched almost two years ago.
In a speech to The George Institute in Sydney later today Mr Dutton will outline a plan for a new advanced payment model for doctors.
“The Government is totally committed to rebuilding general practice,” he will say.
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Dutton confirms Govt will keep PCEHR

Changes to rollout flagged.

Federal Health Minister Peter Dutton has confirmed the Government will keep the controversial personally controlled electronic health record (PCEHR) scheme following an audit into the $1 billion project.
"The government remains committed to an electronic health record," he said at Sydney's George Institute for Global Health today.
"It is absolutely essential to have a record, so that we can provide tracking and advice around every intervention and the success or otherwise of those interventions."
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Health Minister Peter Dutton to boost private insurers in primary health care

Joanna Heath
Health minister Peter Dutton will commit to keeping the $1 billion e-health system and outline a major overhaul in primary care in Australia in a landmark pre-budget speech to be delivered on Thursday.
In the speech, Mr Dutton hints at providing incentives for GPs to focus on the chronically ill and greater involvement of private health insurers in creating care plans to keep them out of the hospital system.
“The government is totally committed to re-building general practice. No hare-brained super clinic programs for marginal seats thought up on a government jet, but providing greater support to our primary care network, and we will do that not just through funding, but through a greater concentration of our doctors’ efforts on those with the most need,” Mr Dutton will say.
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Privatise NBN, cut start-up funding and appoint a chief digital officer: Commission of Audit

Date May 2, 2014 - 7:17PM

Lia Timson

ANALYSIS
The National Commission of Audit, a report commissioned by Treasurer Joe Hockey and Finance Minister Mathias Cormann last year, was handed down on Thursday. It cannot be accused of overlooking technology and the impact of digital strategies on the national budget.
It made sweeping recommendations regarding the use and ownership of ICT, most of which, perhaps unsurprisingly, reflect the Coalition’s earlier digital policy and technology policies adopted in the UK.
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Address to the George Institute for Global Health

Minister for Health, Peter Dutton's address to the George Institute for Global Health on 1 May 2014.
Page last updated: 01 May 2014
1 May 2014
Acknowledgements:
  • Professor Vlado Perkovic, Executive Director, George Institute Australia
  • Jo Degney, Manager Philanthropy and Partnerships, George Institute
My first words must be to congratulate the Institute for its ongoing work in this country and around the world to improve health outcomes.
The Institute is remarkable in many ways.
Its research focus is on health innovations that provide quick, simple and effective improvements especially in relation to chronic disease and injury.
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Opposition urges government to take security of citizens' data seriously

Date April 29, 2014 - 2:13PM

Ben Grubb

The opposition has called on the Abbott government to take the security of people's private e-health, Medicare, child support and other government records seriously after it was revealed flimsy security was used to protect a critical government website.
Opposition human services spokesman Doug Cameron said on Monday night that Fairfax Media's report on the security of the myGov website was concerning.
If your family medical history is disclosed, you can never get that back – there is no refund 
Security expert Troy Hunt
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Diet to dialysis, hospital patients on the record

AUSTRALIA’S first fully integrated digital hospital will contain 310km of fibre-optic cable and offer patient tracking, ­machine-based record keeping, electronic food ordering and new-age medication dispensing in a near paperless environment.
UnitingCare Health in Queensland executive director Richard Royle said the 100-bed St Stephen’s hospital at Hervey Bay, 300km north of Brisbane, would open in early October and integrate with the federal government’s personally controlled electronic health record — something he knows intimately.
Mr Royle recently chaired the Coalition government’s review of the PCEHR system.
The report has not been made public.
Medical imaging, X-ray equipment, insulin pumps and renal dialysis machines are among items connected to the software system. Data from anaesthetic machines and blood pressure machines is automatically recorded into the patient’s record.
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Should consumers have online access to their health records?

Consumer access to electronic health records may not be far off. In the not-so-distant future people will look up their file from home or a mobile device. They will also be able to add comments to their doctor’s notes.
The Australian PCEHR allows limited access, but the US OpenNotes record system has gone a step further by inviting consumers to read all the doctor’s consultation notes.
Pulse+IT magazine reported that 18 percent of Australian doctors believes consumers should be able access their notes; 65 percent would prefer limited access and 16 percent is opposed to any access at all.
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Can health consumers trust us with their private data?

One of my favourite episodes of the SF series Battlestar Galactica begins during peace time: the Cyclon war is long over and old battle ships are decommissioned – like the Galactica. The ship is transformed into a museum.
However, the decommissioning ceremony has barely finished as a new Cyclon attack begins. Modern spaceships are quickly destroyed by a fatal computer virus that uses the fleet’s network. Because the old, bulky Battlestar Galactica is a standalone ship and not equipped with networked computers, it escapes the attack and plays a vital role in the search for the mythical planet earth.

How secure are healthcare services?

In a Wired article titled It’s insanely easy to hack hospital equipment, Kim Zetter gives a frightening account of security issues in a US hospital with networked medial records, surgery robots, drug infusion pumps, bluetooth-enabled defibrillators, x-ray and imaging databases, and temperature settings of refrigerators storing blood and drugs.
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eHealth NSW CEO Michael Walsh starts work

Michael Walsh starts this week in the joint role of Chief Executive and Chief Information Officer of eHealth NSW following the NSW Government’s announcement last year that the organisation would be established as a separate identity.
Mr Walsh says that the organisation’s Executive Council, chaired by Secretary of Health NSW Mary Foley, is the peak Information and Communication Technology Committee appointed by NSW Health and will set strategy and advise on policy and standards.
“I will also be working very closely with Local Health Districts, pillars and NSW Health as we build on and leverage the significant work already underway in the delivery of eHealth public health programs in NSW,” he says.
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FDA approves sleep apnoea implant

2nd May 2014
US regulators have approved a first-of-its-kind implant that can help ward off moderate to severe sleep apnoea.
The Inspire Upper Airway Stimulation therapy, which has been given the green light by the US Food and Drug Administration, is designed for patients unable to benefit from available therapies.
The device contains a small neurostimulation generator that is surgically implanted in the chest, along with a lead that stimulates a nerve that runs from the ear to the jaw, and another sensing lead that goes to the chest.
Once implanted, the device can be activated before night-time sleep with a remote control.
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Bionic eye trial 'really promising'

Date May 1, 2014 - 7:51AM

Bridie Smith

Seeing little more than blob-like shapes as she navigated her way towards a target on the far wall was a major thrill for Dianne Ashworth. She has been blind for more than 20 years.
This week she reached a milestone. For the first time since losing her sight Dr Ashworth was able to walk and navigate her way without relying on her guide dog.
‘’It’s been amazing,’’ she said. ‘’The more I’ve been doing it, the more natural it feels.’’
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3D-printed cast could heal bones 40% faster

Date April 30, 2014 - 12:06PM

Lucy Kinder

A Turkish designer has created a medical cast using 3D printing which could heal broken bones up top 40 per cent faster.
A 3D-printed medical cast could help bones to heal up to 40 per cent faster.
The black cast, known as the Osteoid, uses an ultrasound system that makes bones heal more quickly.
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Digital pics ubiquitous in general practice

1 May, 2014 Amanda Davey
The use of camera phone images by patients to document their illness may be fraught with medicolegal risks but anecdotally, at least, most GPs appear to welcome the practice.
A qualitative study looking at GPs’ experiences with patient-initiated camera phone images found that digital photos not only aided the doctor in diagnosis and management, but also helped broaden their understanding of the patient’s health and wellbeing.
“Almost all the GPs had been shown clinical images of skin lesions including rashes, moles and ulcers,” the researchers from the University of Western Sydney wrote in the British Journal of General Practice.
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The future of brain implants

  • Gary Marcus and Christof Koch
  • The Wall Street Journal
  • May 02, 2014 12:00AM
WHAT would you give for a ­retinal chip that lets you see in the dark or for a next-generation cochlear implant that lets you hear any conversation in a noisy restaurant, no matter how loud?
Or for a memory chip, wired directly into your brain’s hippocampus, that gives you perfect ­recall of everything you read? Or an implanted interface with the internet that automatically translates a clearly articulated silent thought into an online search that digests the relevant Wikipedia page and projects a summary direct into your brain?
Science fiction? Perhaps not for much longer. Brain implants today are where laser-eye surgery was several decades ago. They are not risk-free — and make sense only for a narrowly defined set of patients — but they are a sign of things to come.
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Medical tourism broker Jens Raun seeks financial lifeline for comparison website

Date April 30, 2014 - 12:30AM

Sylvia Pennington

Want to have a joint replaced, teeth straightened or a new set of boobs but don't have time to wait around – or the cash to get the work done in Australia?
IT consultant and medical tourism broker Jens Raun is hoping to tap the rising global demand for cut-price overseas treatment with an online marketplace to allow patients to shop around internationally for elective procedures.
Currently a participant in the Telsta-backed Muru-D digital accelerator program, Raun is seeking angel funding to get his Medical Tourism Metasearch business off the ground.
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National Commission of Audit urges govt to dump ageing welfare payments system

Outsourcing of the Income Security Integrated System viewed by the commission as a “high risk undertaking”
Byron Connolly (CIO) on 01 May, 2014 15:09
The National Commission of Audit has recommended the Government dump a 30-year old Income Security Integrated System used by state and federal government agencies to calculate and administer $400 million in social welfare payments each day.
The recommendation comes just a week after treasurer, Joe Hockey, told Neil Mitchell of 3AW that the Centrelink system needed replacing.
It also comes two days after the Department of Human Services (DHS) – which runs Centrelink – experienced an outage that affected Centrelink and Child Support online services.
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History repeats in government’s Centrelink overhaul

HISTORY is about to repeat itself as the Abbott government embarks on a mammoth project to replace Centrelink’s core IT infrastructure central to the ­delivery of $150 billion in social security payments annually.
Joe Hockey all but gave the green light when he told radio station 3AW last week that the welfare agency’s 31-year-old mainframe system was “in bad shape” and would cost “billions” to upgrade.
The news sparked fond memories for Kevin Noonan, who in his younger days played a vital role in the original design of the system in the 1980s.
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Australian Medicines Terminology v2.55

AMT v2.55 is the April 2014 version of Australian Medicines Terminology (AMT).
  • The 28 April 2014 release of AMT contains all the Australian marketed products that are included on the Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits including the Repatriation Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule (RPBS).
  • This release includes products that become available as PBS products on 1 May 2014.
  • 88 new products have been added since the last release bringing the total number of products to 16972.
AMT v2.55 builds upon the work of the previous AMT versions which had multiple interim releases and extensive external consultation.
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Australians' private government details at mercy of hackers, say IT security experts

Date April 28, 2014 - 7:20AM

Ben Grubb and Noel Towell

The private records of millions of Australians – including their doctor visits, prescription drugs, childcare and welfare payments – are at the mercy of cyber criminals because of flimsy IT security around a critical federal government website, IT security experts warn.
And they say the risk will increase from the middle of the year, when the government will make it compulsory for Australians to use the my.gov.au website to lodge their electronic tax returns, potentially also exposing their financial and banking records to hackers.
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Centrelink, Child Support suffer systems outage

Date April 28, 2014 - 2:06PM

Ben Grubb

A systems outage affected Centrelink and Child Support customers on Monday.
Australians were unable to access key online government services including Centrelink and the Child Support website on Monday, as the sites experienced technical issues leaving users and staff without access.
The outages also appeared to affect Centrelink offices, with people reporting they were turned away at a Brisbane office due to the systems outage.
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New NBN may limit tele-health potential

April 28, 2014
NBN plan unable to deliver tele-health: Clare
Slower upload speeds under a mixed NBN model will make unsuitable for many ‘tele-health’ applications, according to opposition communications spokesman Jason Clare. “NBN Co has started consulting with its wholesale customers on the product set that will be available on its fibre to the node deployment,” he said. “While the product set will attempt to mirror the FTTP products, there is no product that will guarantee an upload speed above 1 Mbps.” A 2011 paper, Potential Telehealth Benefits of High Speed Broadband, from Monash University research revealed that clinical-grade video-conferenced consultation required uploads of 1.2 to 2.5 Mbps. The Minister and his new management team have consistently focused on the question of download speeds and ignored the importance of upload speeds.
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Athena Software and Sinapse Achieve PCEHR E-Health Certification for Penelope Case Management Software

Waterloo, ON (PRWEB) April 28, 2014
Australian users of Penelope, a web-based case management software application developed by Waterloo, Ont. tech firm Athena Software, can now connect their client records to the Personally Controlled eHealth Record System (PCEHR).
PCEHR is the Australian government's initiative to provide a secure online summary of an individual's health information. 
The full integration and connectivity between Penelope and PCEHR is a joint effort by Athena and Sinapse, a Melbourne-based consulting firm who are Athena's partners in Australia.
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Space ark planned for a dying planet

  • Kaya Burgess
  • The Times
  • April 28, 2014 10:31AM
BRITISH scientists and architects are working on plans for a "living spaceship" like an interstellar Noah's ark that will launch in 100 years' time to carry humans away from a dying Earth.
Researchers around the UK are working with colleagues from the USA, Italy and the Netherlands on Project Persephone, investigating new biotechnologies that could one day help to create a self-sustaining spacecraft to carry people beyond our solar system.
The craft would incorporate into its structure organic matter such as algae and artificial soil, using the Sun's energy to produce biofuel and a sustainable source of food. It would need to keep a few thousand people alive for generations on a one-way mission to find a new world to inhabit. Rachel Armstrong, a senior architecture and design lecturer at the University of Greenwich, is leading the project.
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Enjoy!
David.

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